The OC Register's Larry Wellborn has an interesting story on the paper's website today about Lisa Piho, the former Mr. J's topless dancer who was at the center of a bizarre scandal involving the strip club and the cops a few years back. Piho, a former girlfriend of one of the nightclub's managers, first came to the attention of police in July 2001, when she plowed into Huntington Beach resident Mark De La Fuente as he crossed the street while walking his dog.
Although cops found evidence of methamphetamines in her car, she wasn't sent to jail. Instead, Piho became an informant, an arrangement made by her boyfriend, Sammy Johar, whose parents owned Mr. J's, which has since shut down. (In one case, she actually helped set up her ex-boyfriend.) Johar, a former Tustin police explorer, had pals in uniform. He convinced them to allow Piho a break. If she set up drug dealers--and gave the cops a few lap dances on the side---they'd keep her out of jail.
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The Weekly first reported on Piho and Johar's shenanigans back in December 2005. That story, "Requiem for a Dreamgirl," noted that another girlfriend of Johar, Andrea Nelson, turned up dead within 24 hours of being interviewed by an internal-affairs cop about what she knew about Piho, Johar and corrupt cops. In January 2002, a client of Mr. J's named Homayan Bakhtar drove an unconscious Nelson to Hoag Hospital, where she pronounced dead of a cocaine overdose.
Linda Cator, Nelson's mother, sued Bakhtar for criminal negligence in her daughter's death, alleging Bakhtar murdered her daughter, presumably on Johar's behalf, in retaliation for her work as an informant. Bakhtar told police he'd met but barely knew Johar. He also told the Weekly he was innocent of any wrongdoing in Nelson's death. In subsequent stories--like this one--I interviewed former employees of the strip club who recalled Bakhtar and Johar as buddies.
Last month, a judge dismissed Cator's lawsuit against Bakhtar. In fact, despite detailed and chilling--or, in other words, outlandish and unproven--depositions filed by Scott Shaw, Cator's private investigator, claiming, among other things, that a video (location unknown) exists showing Bakhtar murdering Nelson, no actual evidence has ever surfaced that Nelson's death was anything but a tragic accident.
Anyways, back to Piho. Despite ultimately being charged with vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, she avoided prison time because of her status as an informant and was put in county jail for only a year. She remained on probation, however, which she has now violated by being caught with speed. She has a probation hearing set for next month and faces six years in prison.